Teach kids how to care for the simple needs of a land snail. Locally found snails don’t cost anything to keep and don’t require a big commitment. They can be kept until the novelty wears off and then released back into the wild. Keeping a pet snail (however temporary) will give kids an opportunity to learn about it. Watch closely when they eat. You can’t see its mouth but you can see how the food is munched bit by bit. They use a radula to file bits of food into its mouth. A radula is like a tongue with teeth. Cool, I know. The land snail pictured here is interesting to watch. It has eyes at the tip of its antennas (the top pair) and the bottom pair is used for feeling and smelling. Best of all you can watch your snail slime its way around using only one muscular foot.
I live on the East coast of the United States so this is a common land snail around here.
If your snail starts to dry out, it will close itself inside its shell and wait for conditions to improve before venturing out again. This state of inactivity is called estivation. They can seal the opening with a sheet of a clear substance that looks like dried egg whites.
If you plan to keep your snail for more than a week or so, you will need to add a source of calcium to the snail’s enclosure. For this you can add a piece of plain chalk or a piece of cuttlebone.
This is Snailie the land snail. You might just find your next pet in your flower garden.
A glass container works well. I found this vintage jar in the woods at an old unofficial trash dump. All that remained of the dump was glass and large metal items. I thought this jar was cool so I took it home. Do they still make jars like this?
A piece of cheese cloth or breathable fabric. You don’t want your pet snail getting lost in your house.
An elastic band. Save and reuse elastic bands that come off vegetables like broccoli and asparagus.
Wash jar. Don’t forget to take the snail out of the jar first!
Replace damp paper towel.
Add food: a leaf of lettuce (not iceberg), a piece of your apple core, spinach, carrot, or a raw potato slice. You are sure to find some yummy vegetable scraps left-over from dinner preparation. The food scraps shouldn’t be rotten however. Take out any food that gets moldy.
Keep your snail out of direct sunlight. You don’t want it to get too hot or dry.
As a child I had a vivarium set up with plants and a pet snail or two. If you choose to set up a vivarium (terrarium), make sure you choose plants that like a moist environment. Also add potting soil, plants, a log and some dried leaves to mimic it’s natural environment. Keep the soil damp.
Note: avoid chlorinated water, avoid washing your container with soap (or at least make sure you rinse really well).